“When Sunny Get’s Blue” For Beginners
Welcome to this beginner focused lesson on the tune “When Sunny Gets Blue”. We will be sticking to simple voicings containing the root, 3rd, and 7th of each chord and then the melody on top.
The Form & Chord Changes
“When Sunny Get’s Blue” follows a 32 bar AABA form and is commonly played in the key of F Major. The form is mostly comprised of 25s and 251s which makes it a great tune for beginners so that we can isolate the voice leading in these common progressions.
We start this tutorial by discussing the form of the tune and how recognising the AABA form can help to speed up the memorisation process of the chords and melody. We then analyse the chord changes and identify any common progressions such as 25s and 251s.
Rephrasing The Melody
The A section of the tune repeats 3 times which means that we have a repetitive melody for much of the form. We will discuss some simple ways to rephrase the melody to add interest and variety to the otherwise repetitive melody line.
As jazz musicians we have the creative freedom to rephrase the melody in many different ways. We can add notes in, take notes out, change the rhythm of the melody, change the placement of the melody, and add ornamentation such as trills, turns, and grace notes. We will explore these different options and apply them throughout the lesson.
Search for notable vocal recordings of the song to familiarise yourself with the lyrics and the meaning behind them.
Knowing the lyrics helps to phrase the melody and express the meaning behind the song.
Pay attention to the voice leading in the 25s and 251s. The b7th always drops by a half step to become the 3rd of the next chord.
Experiment with voicings in different registers of the piano. The A section repeats 3 times and utilise the different registers of the piano to add interest and variety to your arrangement.
Compile a list of your favourite recordings and listen and transcribe the parts you like. This is how we develop our own sound or 'voice' when playing jazz piano.
If you're new to transcription, check out the transcription exercises in the PianoGroove community area: https://www.pianogroove.com/community/c/improvisation-exercises